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Jeff Brandes hits the fundraising trail running.

Tampa Bay

Jeff Brandes is sitting on a gold mine compared to challenger, Lindsay Cross

State Senator Jeff Brandes continues to grow his fundraising lead over his Democratic challenger Lindsay Cross, making the already steep climb even more treacherous. Between his campaign and an affiliated political committee, Brandes has raised more than $2 million to keep his seat.

Cross has raised just $156,000 and does not have a political committee.

Brandes’ political might and well-connected stature in political circles are clear in his continued campaign hauls.

Brandes’ political committee raised $13,500 this report including $5,000 from the medical marijuana company Surterra, $5,000 from the Florida Association of Insurance Agents, $2500 from Florida Right Solutions, a political action committee chaired by conservative strategist Marc Reichelderfer and $1000 from the skin care practice Dermazone Solutions.

Brandes raised more than $40,000 for his campaign fund from Sept. 29 through Oct. 5, the most recent campaign reports available. That includes a $27,000 in-kind contribution from the Florida Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Major donors included Surterra, Realtor’s Political Advocacy Committee, the People’s Trust PAC, Johnson & Blanton, Johnson & Associates, Florida Right Solutions, Florida Home Builders Association ION PAC, Duke Energy PAC, Covanta Energy, and American Fire Sprinkler Association.

Brandes brought in just five contributions from donors in the Tampa Bay region.

Not including in-kind contributions, Brandes brought in 17 individual contributions averaging $824 each. The maximum contribution allowable is $1,000.

Cross raised $17,000 during the latest reporting period from 101 individual contributions averaging $168 each. She received five out-of-state contributions from Elizabeth Williams in New Mexico, Elizabeth Lyman in Maine, Jill Cranberry in Colorado, Megan Caroll in California and Joy Bartholomew in Maryland.

Brandes’ spending slowed down this month. He doled out $4,800 including $3,500 to Political Capital for consulting services and $1,100 to Extensive Enterprises for advertising. Extensive Enterprises publishes this website.

Meanwhile, Cross hasn’t spent anything recently. Since the inception of her campaign, Cross paid $20,000 to Washington D.C.-based 76 Words for media buys and $6,300 to Resonance Campaigns, a Democratic digital media firm.

She’s spent a total of $36,000 to date.

Cross entered the race at a disadvantage. She replaced Carrie Pilon after the former candidate bowed out due to sudden health issues arose with a family member. That gave Cross a late start in the campaign.

Despite being the fundraising underdog, the Cross campaign is hitting the campaign trail with ferocity. The team is spreading a message based on environmental policy, education reform that does not prioritize school choice programs, transportation and health care, among others. She said her message is resonating with voters thirst for a change in Tallahassee.

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Jeff Brandes is a client of Extensive Enterprises Media, the holding company that owns FloridaPolitics.com.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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